While growing up, I saw different means of cooking food. For one, there were the traditional means of cooking which involved the firewood. This was predominantly used until the charcoal means of cooking came along. When the kerosene stove came to vogue, it felt like nothing else could beat it, but then gas cookers sprung up and virtually everyone flocked to greener pastures! The celebrated kerosene stove suddenly became obsolete! It soon became an unwritten abomination not to have a gas cylinder in one’s kitchen no matter how small the size of the cylinder was.
The thing about gas cookers that beats stoves (worse of all charcoal) is the ease and speed at which it cooks. Everything about it seems so fast. One minute your rice is immersed in water and the next minute, it is totally dry! What a huge relief gas cookers came to be. All due respect to our ancestors who labored for hours in the kitchen just to prepare a meal, but this generation is certainly not willing to dedicate so much time to a simple task when a better alternative in gas cookers is readily available.
However, in recent times, this “better alternative” has fast become disaster-prone, with the rate of gas cooking explosions hitting new heights. On September 18, 2019, two persons were hospitalised at No 12, Iya Omolere Street, Ogudu in Kosofe Local Government area of Lagos State. The gas explosion occurred when one of the victims was said to have ignited the matches in order to prepare breakfast.
While the victims of the above incident were lucky enough to have escaped with only varied degrees of injuries, the victims of the June 12, 2019 cooking gas explosion that occurred at Ademola Adefiye area of Mile 12 in Lagos State were not so lucky. In that incident, three persons lost their lives while a further fifteen were injured. While we can go on and on about the myriad of gas explosions that have occurred, not just in Lagos, but in Nigeria as a whole, the pertinent issue and the focus of this article is to offer safety tips regarding the usage of this gas cylinders in order to avert future explosions.
For starters, avoiding a possible gas explosion starts from the moment you go to refill your gas cylinder. You must always insist that the attendant changes the rubber ring at the nose of the cylinder. The black rubber ring usually wears out after a while and thus needs changing whenever the cylinder is to be refilled. This might look irrelevant but in the grand scheme of things its necessity is most paramount.
Also, one must regularly change the pipe that connects the cylinder to the cooker. After a while, the pipe could puncture and this could lead to gas emitting into the atmosphere. If you light matches in this situation, an instant explosion is sure. The iron ring that clips the pipe to both the cylinder and the cooker also needs to be very firm. If it is loose, the gas could also leak from that point and cause a fatal incident.
In the event you come back home and smell gas in your kitchen, do not even think about turning on the light bulb. Any attempt to turn on the light at that moment can cause a mighty explosion. Your best bet at that moment is to first, close the gas tube, and then open up all the windows and doors until the smell is no more. Only then can you turn on the light.
Other things like the refrigerator must not be opened at that moment (when the gas smell is still saturated) as this will also cause a spark. The ceiling fan is not left out as putting it on at that moment will cause an electric charge that will result in an equally fatal explosion.
Lastly, the gas cylinder and the cooker must be far between. It should never be too close to each other. More importantly, the gas cylinder must be secure and not in a position where too many other activities are ongoing. This carelessness could prove fatal and thus, the appropriate steps are needed to secure the gas cylinder and all its components.
The intention of this piece is not to fill your hearts with the fear of gas cookers, but to give you relevant tips that could come in handy in your day to day living. Gas cookers are simpler alternatives for cooking, but then again, safety consciousness is needed in its usage. You cannot totally place your trust on innovations. There is a need to always be safety conscious at all times.
A word, they say, is enough for the wise.